Thursday, 13 December 2018

Critical Week: Catch the wave

Amid a flurry of last-minute awards-consideration screenings (my first voting deadline is Friday night), I'm still covering movies that are coming into the cinemas at the moment. This week included two blockbusters, a welcome break from the heavier "prestige films" I've been watching. Carrying on from Justice League, Aquaman is an unabashedly corny romp with cartoonish effects and a simplistic script, but lots of fun. The Transformers prequel Bumblebee is even better, maintaining a nice character focus in between the robot-bashing action. The connection between Hailee Steinfeld and her car/alien is as involving as her relationships with her parents and the cute boy next door.

And then there was the high-powered cast of the Dick Cheney biopic Vice, with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell easily transcending the makeup and prosthetics. The glib script is more problematic. The Coens' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a delightful collection of Western shorts, each with great actors and a twist in its tale. Capernaum is a flat-out masterpiece, a Lebanese drama about life on the streets that feels so real that it shakes us to the core. Free Solo is one of the most jaw-dropping docs of the year, following an intrepid climber up an impossible wall of granite. And there was also the generally strong Male Shorts: International V2, a collection of five gay-themed short films exploring intimacy issues (full disclosure: I never saw V1). There were also two film events...

Alita: Battle Angel
Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron's sci-fi action epic was previewed for the press with a collection of about 20 minutes of short scenes and a new trailer, shown to us in Imax 3D with a video intro from Cameron and an in-person Q&A with Rodriguez and producer Jon Landau. The effects are seriously impressive, even if the design work is a little cartoonish - Alita (Rosa Salazar, right) has massive eyes. But it definitely makes me want to see the whole movie when it opens in February.

The Favourite at Kensington Palace
Now here's a brilliant idea: Sandy Powell's insanely clever costumes from the film The Favourite are on display at Kensington Palace until mid-February, set out in the rooms where Queen Anne actually lived. At the press launch this week, it was amazing to be able to walk all the way around these elaborate outfits, marvelling at the stunning textures and layers (and at how tiny Emma Stone is). Meanwhile portraits of royals who lived here are peering down at you from the walls. And one of the story's main events took place right in this very room. Pretty cool. Full information:

This coming week, I have more catching up to do, including Steve Carell in Welcome to Marwen, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench in All Is True, Jennifer Aniston in Dumplin', Paul Giamatti in Private Life, the remake of Papillon and the Russian dance drama Polina.

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